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Robert Bakewell was born in 1735 and raised at Dishley, just north of Loughborough. In 1760, he took over the running of the farm at Dishley, which consisted of some 440 acres.

Around this time, there was a much greater need for food. Previously, enough food had been available from traditional methods, but with the industrial revolution, people were starting to move into the towns. This meant more people to be fed with food produced by fewer farmers. Bakewell came up with ideas to double food production, one of his aims was to “produce 2 lbs of mutton where there was only 1 before”.

Bakewell first bred cattle to be used for food. Before, the main use for cattle was for pulling ploughs, but Bakewell bred long horned heifers and a Westmoreland bull to create the Dishley Longhorn. However, after his death, the Dishley longhorn was replaced with short horn versions.

Bakewell is best known for creating a breed of sheep known as the New Leicesters. These were much improved on previous sheep, but were later replaced with Border Leicester crosses, which had thicker wool and could withstand the British Climate.

Bakewell is also known for advances in farm management, crop rotation and irrigation. He died in 1795 at the age of 60.

By Daniel Spencer